The New York State Bar Association today praised a provision of the proposed immigration reform bill that would provide legal representation to some immigrants facing possible deportation and other proceedings.

In a letter to U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, State Bar President Seymour W. James, Jr. (Legal Aid Society in New York City) asked that the Judiciary Committee reject an amendment that would strike the provision from the bill.

While noting that the State Bar has not taken a position on many other provisions of the bill, James said it is in "full support" of "mandating that the Attorney General appoint counsel for unaccompanied alien children and mentally incompetent and vulnerable alien adults, as well as authorizing the appointment of counsel for others. These provisions are critical if we are to be true to our nation's notions of fairness and due process in legal proceedings."

In 2012, the State Bar's Special Committee on Immigration Representation issued a report. It said that immigration cases can involve complicated and technical legal arguments that "pro se respondents are particularly ill-equipped to identify or articulate."  A pro se respondent is someone who represents himself or herself in a legal proceeding without an attorney.

The 76,000-member New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation.  It was founded in 1876.


Contact: Lise Bang-Jensen
Director, Media Services and Public Affairs